Split Pea and Ham Soup (and how to can it)

Last week I decided to can some Split Pea and Ham Soup to store away in our pantry for the cold Fall and Winter months ahead. I figured it’s good to be able to pull out a homemade “bone-warming” hearty soup off the pantry shelf when it’s cold and stormy outside!Split Pea and Ham Soup (and how to can it) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
I decided to take some pics to show you how easy it is to can this soup. Guess what?  Even if you don’t can, this is a delicious, easy, and economical soup to prepare for your family (makes a big pot of soup). Here’s what you do:

Combine 2 cups of split peas (a one pound bag) with water (I used water PLUS added 2 large chicken bouillon cubes for flavor) in a large saucepan. Cook the peas on medium-low for about an hour, just until the peas become tender.

Split  Pea and Ham Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Use an immersion blender to completely blend the peas until smooth. **You can also process the peas and liquid in a food processor (or blender) a little at a time, until puréed, (if no immersion blender is available). I puréed until smooth, but it’s okay to leave it a bit chunky, if desired.

Split Pea and Ham Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Add sliced carrots, chopped ham, diced onion, one bay leaf and some allspice to the puréed pea mixture.

Split Pea and Ham Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
Bring the mixture to a boil (on medium-high heat), then cook on reduced heat for about 30 minutes. If the soup gets too thick, you can add a little bit more boiling water.

Split Pea and Ham Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

While soup is cooking, prepare pressure canner, canning jars and flat lids per manufacturer instructions (for cleaning, heating, etc.). I usually put my clean canning jars on a dish towel lined baking sheet and let them heat in a 225 degree oven for about 20 minutes before filling.

Split Pea and Ham Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Ladle hot soup into prepared hot jars (the soup will thicken a little as it cooks, by the way). Leave 1 inch headspace in each jar. Remove air bubbles from each jar, and make sure you have the correct headspace. Adjust, if necessary, by removing or adding liquid. Wipe rims of each jar clean with a wet paper towel to ensure a good seal. Place the prepared flat lid on jar, then tighten the screwband on, to fingertip tight.

Split Pea and Ham Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Carefully place the prepared jars of soup into the prepared pressure canner. Lock the lid, and process, according to manufacturer and USDA instructions for YOUR pressure canner. (Example: Bring to boil, vent steam for 10 minutes, close vent, etc.).  Process jars of soup at 10 pounds pressure. Pint jars are processed for 75 minutes and Quart jars are processed for 90 minutes.

Split Pea and Ham Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

When processing time is done, turn the heat off. Let the pressure in your canner drop to zero on it’s own. Wait a couple additional minutes, then open vent. Let canner sit for an additional 10 minutes once vent is open, then remove lid, followed by jars.

Place the hot jars onto a dish towel (do NOT set jars directly onto kitchen counter- they could crack). Let them cool undisturbed, for 24 hours, then label and store in pantry.

Split Pea and Ham Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

This recipe (from one of my beloved Ball canning books), makes 5 pint jars or 2 Quart sized jars. I made 5 pint jars this time… and now they are happily shelved in our pantry for a “rainy” day!

Split Pea and Ham Soup / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

I find it quite fulfilling to prepare canned foods to stock up our pantry… hope you enjoy the canning process, as well as this wonderful tasting soup!  Have a great day!

Split Pea and Ham Soup (and how to can it) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Recipe Source: My book called “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving”, Published 2012, Robert Rose, Inc., page 403.

Split Pea and Ham Soup (and how to can it)
 
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Hearty split pea and ham soup... whether you make a big pot of soup to eat now OR want to can it, to store in pantry, this recipe will satisfy.
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 5 pints
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 large chicken bouillon cubes (optional, but adds additional flavor to broth)
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1 ½ cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Place split peas, water and chicken bouillon cubes into a large saucepan or soup pot (stainless steel is best). Bring the ingredients to a boil with medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once they come to a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer; let the peas continue to cook for about an hour (or until the split peas become tender).
  2. When peas are done, purée peas and liquid, using a stick immersion blender OR processing in batches using a food processor. If using food processor, return purée to pan.
  3. Prepare pressure canner, jars, lids, etc. per manufacturer guidelines.
  4. Add ham, carrots, onion, allspice and bay leaf to soup. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper, to taste. If soup is a bit too thick, you can thin it out a little by adding a bit of boiling water to pan. Stir to combine. Remove bay leaf.
  5. Place hot, prepared jars on a dish towel. Ladle the soup mixture into jars, being sure to leave 1 inch headspace on each jar. Remove or add liquid, as necessary, to ensure correct headspace. Remove air bubbles from jars, then wipe the rim of jars clean using a wet paper towel, to ensure a good seal. Place hot flat lids on jar, then screw the bands into place until they are fingertip tight.
  6. Carefully put the jars into water in prepared pressure canner. Lock lid; turn heat to medium-high. Once vent begins steaming, let it vent for 10 minutes, then close vent. Heat until canner reaches 10 pounds pressure. After it reaches 10 pounds pressure, process PINTS for 75 minutes and QUARTS for 90 minutes.
  7. When done, turn off heat. Let the pressure in the canner drop to zero naturally. Once it gets to zero, wait a couple more minutes, then open the vent cover. Wait another 10 minutes, then carefully remove the canner lid. Place the hot jars on a dish towel on counter, and let them sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check for proper seal, then label and store jars in pantry.
Notes
If using quart sized jars, this recipe will make 2 quarts (plus a bit more). The recipe is easily doubled.
When you open a can, you will notice that the soup will have thickened slightly during the canning process. Just add a bit of water to soup, reheat and enjoy!

 

Gingerbread Scones

I made Gingerbread Scones recently (trying a new recipe). If you know me well, you KNOW how much I love a good scone. It felt weird… like it “should” be Christmas time when I made them, but it was 90+ degrees outside and the middle of summer! Who cares if it’s hot or cold outside… when you’ve got a tasty scone in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other!!Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
Do YOU enjoy a good scone?  If you like scones (that aren’t dry and crumble like sawdust), then I hope you will check out my Recipe Index for other delicious scone recipes… like Cinnamon Chip Scones, Cranberry Orange Scones, and Banana Nut Scones, to name a few.

Here’s how to make these:  Place flour, brown sugar, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in mixing bowl. Cut in the COLD butter with a pastry blender (or two forks), until mixture is the size of small peas.

Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
Mix together the molasses, egg yolk, and milk in a small bowl, until combined.

Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
Pour the molasses mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until dough is moistened and has come together.

Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

The mixture will be slightly crumbly. Place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough 6-7 times, incorporating the crumbles into dough, and it forms a solid ball.

Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Pat or roll the dough ball out into an 8 inch circle, then slice evenly into 8 pieces.

Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Put the scones onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet; keep them about an inch apart from each other. Whisk an egg white until it becomes frothy. Using a pastry brush, evenly brush the egg white over the top of each scone wedge. Sprinkle the top of each scone with coarse sugar (I used raw sugar).

Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Bake scones in a preheated 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. (I found mine took the entire 15 minutes to turn golden brown). When done, remove baking sheet from oven. Transfer the scones to a wire rack (including the parchment paper). Let cool.

Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
I moved mine near our open kitchen window to cool in the morning air. See the raw sugar glistening on the top of the scones?

Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
It’s not necessary to garnish the scones once they’ve cooled off, but I wanted to add a bit of pretty icing to each one to make them look even better!  I mixed up powdered sugar, water, and a bit of cinnamon into a glaze-like consistency, poured it into a squeeze bottle (you can also use a resealable bag, then snip a little corner off the bottom) and decorated the scones.

Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
Let the glaze firm up just a bit, and they’re all done! Ready to eat… now where’s my huge mug of coffee?

Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Hope you will consider trying this recipe! It certainly doesn’t have to be the Holiday season to enjoy a good scone now, does it?  Have a fantastic day!

Gingerbread Scones / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Recipe source: http://heritageschoolhouse.blogspot.com/2009/11/gingerbread-scones-8-servings-2-cups.html

Gingerbread Scones
 
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It certainly doesn't have to be the holidays in order to enjoy these delicious, Gingerbread Scones!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
For Scones:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup COLD butter (1/2 a cube)
  • ⅓ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg, separated
  • Coarse sugar (for dusting tops of scones prior to baking)
For Icing (to decorate scones)
  • Powdered Sugar (approx. 1 cup)
  • Few dribbles of water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
  1. In medium bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda, ginger, salt and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender (or two forks), cut in COLD butter until mixture is about the size of small peas.
  2. In separate bowl, combine molasses, milk and egg yolk until fully mixed. Pour this into the dry ingredients in other bowl. Stir until just moistened. (Mixture was fairly crumbly. I added just a smidge more milk).
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, then knead dough about 7-8 times. Shape dough into an 8 inch circle (using your hands). Using a sharp knife, cut into 8 equal sized pieces.
  4. Place scones onto a greased (or parchment paper covered) baking sheet. Place the dough wedges about an inch apart (but still in a circle shape).
  5. In a small dish, beat the egg white until it is frothy. Brush the egg white over the top of each scone using a pastry brush. Sprinkle scones with coarse sugar.
  6. Bake scones in preheated 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until they are light, golden brown in color. When done, remove to wire rack. Let cool.
  7. To add decorative icing to the scones, mix together powdered sugar, vanilla extract and a teaspoon of water. Stir well. Continue to add a couple drops of water at a time until you have an icing that is "drizzle-able" (not too thick... not too thin). Place icing into a plastic squeeze bottle and decoratively drizzle over cooled scones OR place icing into a resealable plastic storage bag, snip a little piece off the bottom corner, and decorate.

 

Pasta Salad

Do you enjoy Pasta Salad? We sure do. I like to make them in the summer (when it’s HOT), and have the chilled, yummy salad “hang out” in our refrigerator for quick bites here and there! It’s so easy to make this Pasta Salad, and it tastes quite wonderful.Pasta Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
I’ve been making Pasta Salad like this for at least 20 years, and we always enjoy it. Here’s a closeup of the “Cast Of Characters”, chopped and ready to go… sliced black olives, cheddar cheese, Genoa salami, red pepper, broccoli, baby carrots, red onion, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes (from our garden)! YUM.  I chop and cut all of this while the pasta is cooking, to save time!

Pasta Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

The prep time to make this salad is minimal. Ready in under 15 minutes!  Start by cooking pasta according to package directions. I like to use rainbow pasta (as shown) for color and variety, but elbow macaroni, bow-tie pasta, etc. will work fine, as well! When done, rinse and drain pasta.

Pasta Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Add pasta and all other ingredients into a large salad bowl.

Pasta Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Pour Italian salad dressing over top, and mix well, to fully coat it all. Any Italian dressing will be just fine (just use what you have), BUT this is my FAVORITE dressing to use on this salad! (No… I am not sponsored by Olive Garden… I just really like their creamy Italian dressing paired with this salad).

Pasta Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Cover and refrigerate salad for at least an hour (for best flavor!). Right before serving, taste, and add additional salad dressing if necessary (the dressing will absorb into the pasta while refrigerating).  That’s it… serve it up… and ENJOY the great flavors in this salad.

Pasta Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Have a great day! Make the most of every opportunity to be a blessing to someone that crosses your path today. Life is short, friends. Be kind!

Pasta Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Pasta Salad
 
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This quick, and easy to prepare pasta salad with Italian dressing will soon become a family favorite!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. bag rainbow pasta (or any kind you like, elbow macaroni, bow-tie, etc)
  • Salami (approx. 20 slices), cut into quarters
  • Cheddar Cheese (3 med. thick slices), cut into 1" cubes
  • Cherry tomatoes (10), halved
  • Broccoli, cut into tiny pieces (about ½ cup)
  • Red Onion (about ¼ cup), diced
  • Baby carrots, sliced thin (about 10)
  • 1 small can sliced black olives, drained
  • ½ cup chopped red pepper
  • Cucumber (approx. 1 cup), peeled, sliced, then quartered
  • Italian Dressing (1/3- ½ cup)
Directions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. When done, rinse, drain, then set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, chop, dice, slice (etc.) all the veggies and cheese, etc. for salad.
  3. Combine cooked and cooled pasta and remaining ingredients in large salad bowl.
  4. Pour ⅓ to ½ cup salad dressing over salad. Toss well, to combine. If it needs a bit more salad dressing, add it! The salad dressing will absorb a bit into the salad as it refrigerates. If necessary, add just a bit more dressing right before serving!
  5. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour before serving, to give all the flavors a chance to mingle!
  6. Serve, and enjoy!
Notes
The quantity of chopped veggies and cheese used in this recipe is approximate. Change quantities up and/or add other ingredients as you prefer! You really can't hurt this salad. Trust me!

 

Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel Breakfast Sandwich

I stared and stared at a bagel calling to me this morning from it’s shelf in our pantry. It looked so forlorn just sitting there, so I decided to turn it into something beautiful. I “morphed” it into a delicious Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel Breakfast Sandwich (try saying that in one mouthful)!Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel Breakfast Sandwich / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
Being the nice wife that I am (*cough, cough), I asked my husband if he wanted to have one also, since there were actually 2 bagels left in the bag. Of course he said yes (he hardly ever turns down food), so off into the kitchen I went to play… I mean cook us breakfast! Guess what? It tasted fantastic!

Less than 10 minutes later, we were chowing down on these hearty breakfast sandwiches… delicious and filling! And truthfully, they were so easy to make! Here’s what you need to do:

Split bagel in half. Lightly butter both sides. Place on wire rack under oven broiler (about 5-6 inches away from heating element) and broil, only until they are light golden brown.

Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel Breakfast Sandwich / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel Breakfast Sandwich / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Once you take them out, place sliced cheddar cheese on one half of the bagel (while bagel is still hot). Put on enough thin slices of cheese to cover.

Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel Breakfast Sandwiches / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

In a skillet, fry one egg (per sandwich) however you like them cooked (over medium, over easy or hard). Salt and pepper egg, to taste.

Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel Breakfast Sandwich / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

When egg is done, place it on top of the cheese half.  Place a thin slice of deli ham onto the other half, folding the ham to make it cover bagel.  Place the bagel halves back into the oven under the broiler (about 5-6 inches away from broiler). Re-heat only until cheese begins to melt, and sandwich is re-heated.

Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel Breakfast Sandwich / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Remove bagel halves from oven. Place the half bagel with the ham on top of the other half. Ta-Da!  Your breakfast sandwich is now ready to devour!

Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel Breakfast Sandwich / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

I cut mine in half, just so I could show you the inside of the sandwich in all of it’s glorious “bagely-eggy-cheesy-hammy” goodness!

Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel Breakfast Sandwich / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

This breakfast sandwich was so good… don’t think I will be eating lunch, because it was pretty filling!  Hope you’ll consider making these for your family.  My hunch is that these would be great made up, then frozen (wrapped very tightly). It would be fantastic to have some of these breakfast sandwiches around for a quick re-heating in a microwave on a busy morning!

Have a fantastic day!  Try to find time (in this crazy, busy day) to stop pedaling for just a minute and recharge your soul (and body!). I am always glad for those stolen moments of rest.

Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel Breakfast Sandwich / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Recipe Source: My hungry brain.

Ham, Egg & Cheese Bagel Breakfast Sandwich
 
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Take that store bought bagel and morph it into a delicious and filling breakfast sandwich, with egg, ham & cheese!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Breakfast Sandwich
Serves: 1 sandwich
Ingredients
  • INGREDIENTS FOR ONE SANDWICH:
  • 1 bagel (I used an "Everything" bagel)
  • Butter (enough to spread on bagel for broiling)
  • Cheddar cheese slices (cut into enough pieces to cover bagel)
  • 1 thin slice deli ham
  • 1 egg, fried the way you like it!
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (for egg)
Directions
  1. Slice bagel in half. Lightly butter bagel. Place bagel halves (on a rack) under oven broiler until golden brown. Remove.
  2. Place cheddar cheese on top of one half of the bagel (enough to cover)
  3. Fold slice of ham and place on other half of bagel, to cover.
  4. Fry one egg (however your like it). Salt and pepper egg to taste. Remove from skillet and place on top of cheddar cheese.
  5. Place both halves back under oven broiler again to heat it all back up and slightly melt the cheese. Remove from oven, put the two halves together... and enjoy!

 

Peach Coulis

Peach Coulis7

If you’re looking to enhance a peach dessert this summer, why not make a simple Peach Coulis (Koo-Lee) to decorate the plate OR the dessert, and make it even MORE beautiful?Peach Coulis / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
A coulis is simply a slightly thickened, puréed and sweetened fruit sauce that is an easy way to bring more fruit flavor to a dessert. It can also be used to make the dessert LOOK GOOD (like they do in restaurants!)  Check out my recipe for Raspberry Coulis!  Decorating with a fruit coulis gives your dessert the “wow” factor, and is so easy to make.

Here’s how you make a delicious Peach Coulis:  Place fresh peeled and sliced peaches, granulated sugar, cinnamon and water in a medium skillet or saucepan. Bring this mixture to a boil.

Peach Coulis / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
Continue to cook until the sugar is completely dissolved (about 5-6 minutes) and peaches have significantly softened and begun to break down.

Peach Coulis / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Put the mixture into a blender and mix until smooth. 

Peach Coulis / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Peach Coulis / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Once blended, place a mesh colander over a bowl, then pour blended liquid into strainer.

Peach Coulis / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Push the liquid through the strainer (any leftover chunks or pieces of peach will remain in the strainer). I like to use a wooden spoon to press down the sauce into the mesh strainer.  Don’t forget to scrape down the underside of the mesh strainer for more sauce! Once all the liquid has been strained through strainer, what is left in the bowl underneath is the coulis. It will be a slightly thick peach sauce that tastes amazing!

I like to pour the coulis into a plastic decorating bottle with a cap on it (fairly inexpensive – I got a set of plastic bottles at Michael’s craft store). The squeeze bottles make it easier to decoratively drizzle the sauce over the dessert. (*You can also put the coulis into a zip-loc bag, snip off a tiny corner of the bag, and squeeze sauce out that way). The sauce is ready to be used right away, or can be refrigerated until ready to use (coulis will keep for several days in the refrigerator).

Peach Coulis / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

When ready to serve cake, pie, any kind of peach dessert (or in this case my Peach Shortbread Tart), decoratively drizzle the Peach Coulis onto the plate and/or dessert and jazz it up a little bit!  The sauce would also taste great as an ice cream or pancake topping!

Peach Coulis / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Hope you have a fantastic day! May you feel loved, encouraged, and supported as you go about your work today, whether it be in a professional setting or working in your home. Blessings!

Peach Coulis / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Recipe Adapted From:  http://www.marthastewart.com/338850/raspberry-coulis

Peach Coulis
 
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Easy to prepare fruit sauce that can be used as decorative garnish and flavor enhancer for your desserts!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 cups peeled, thinly sliced fresh peaches
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup water
Directions
  1. Put the peach slices, sugar, cinnamon and water into a skillet or saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil on Medium-High heat. Once it boils, reduce heat to Medium-Low, and continue cooking for about 5-6 minutes, until all sugar is dissolved and peaches have softened considerably and begun to break down. Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly.
  2. Place cooled mixture in blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Place a mesh strainer/colander (fine mesh) over a bowl. Pour blended fruit purée into strainer. Use a spoon or spatula to push the mixture down into the strainer. Continue pushing liquid through strainer (remember to scrape down the underside of strainer for additional sauce!), until all liquid has been pushed through. You might have a few solids left in strainer. Discard these.
  4. The sauce will be in the bowl below the strainer. Place sauce (coulis) into a covered decorator bottle with a cap or another covered container.
  5. The sauce is ready to use once completely cool. Coulis will last for several days when stored in refrigerator.
  6. Enjoy!
Notes
No plastic decorator squeeze bottle? No problem! Another way to decoratively drizzle coulis is to place it into a zip-loc bag. When ready to use, use scissors and snip a tiny bit of the bottom corner of the bag off, then squeeze coulis out THAT WAY!

 

 

 

Pork Chops Olé

If you enjoy pork chops, easy to prepare dinners, and Southwestern flavors, then this recipe for Pork Chops Olé might be just the recipe you’re looking for!Pork Chops Olé / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
I was on the phone with my sister a couple days ago, and I told her I had some pork chops laid out for dinner, but hadn’t decided on HOW to cook them yet. She told me about a recipe she had made previously, and it sounded promising. I got off the phone, tweaked the recipe just a tiny bit, and a couple hours later we were eating it for dinner… and it was GOOD!

Here’s how I made it (NOTE:  the recipe, as written serves 6 – I made everything exactly the same as written in the recipe, but only used 3 pork chops for my hubby and I):

Season the chops with a sprinkling of salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder.

Pork Chops Olé / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Heat oil on medium high until hot. Carefully place pork chops into hot oil. Do not move them once they hit the pan.

Pork Chops Olé / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
After 2-3 minutes (when they have a good “sear” on the bottom), flip them over and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Brown on all sides, as well (I stand them up using tongs, to get nice brown color on the sides).

Pork Chops Olé / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick spray. Add uncooked rice, can of diced tomatoes (including juice), water, diced green peppers, and a packet of taco seasoning to the dish. Stir to combine. Place seared pork chops on top of the rice/tomato mixture

Pork Chops Olé / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Garnish the top of each piece of pork with thin strips of green pepper.

Pork Chops Olé / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake for 90 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. At the end of 90 minutes (when your kitchen smells amazing!), carefully remove the dish from oven. Remove foil (and discard), then top each piece of pork with grated Cheddar cheese. Put the dish back into the oven (uncovered) for a couple more minutes, until cheese has melted.

Pork Chops Olé / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

When cheese has fully melted, remove dish from oven. Use a spatula and place a serving of pork (and the Spanish rice it is sitting on) onto individual serving plates. Serve hot… and enjoy! The pork chop and the rice will have a wonderful Southwestern flavor. I served it with some sautéed yellow and green zucchini from our garden!

Pork Chops Olé / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Hope you will give this recipe a try! Once you brown the pork chops, the rest of the meal is cooked in one dish, all together!  The rice cooks under the pork chops and comes out light, fluffy, and full of flavor!  Can’t beat that!  Have a fantastic day, friends.

Pork Chops Olé / The Grateful Girl Cooks!Recipe Source: My sister, Joni.

Pork Chops Olé
 
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Southwestern flavors shine in this baked pork chop and rice "all-in-one-dish" meal!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 6 pork chops, about 1½" thick (I used boneless, but bone-in would work, too!)
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder & cumin (to season chops)
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1¾ cups water
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (use entire can, plus juice)
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • ⅓ cup chopped green peppers (goes in with rice)
  • 3-4 thin slices green pepper per pork chop (as garnish for pork chops)
  • 1 small handful grated cheddar cheese for each pork chop
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly season pork chops with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet. Once oil is hot, lightly brown pork chops on all sides (2-3 minutes per side).
  3. Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Add the UNCOOKED rice, water, diced tomatoes (including juice), chopped green peppers, and envelope of taco seasoning.Stir to combine.
  4. Place the browned pork chops on top of the rice/sauce mixture. Garnish each pork chop with several thin slices of green pepper.
  5. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1½ hours. When done, remove dish from oven. Remove foil. Cover each pork chop with a handful of grated cheddar cheese. Place dish back into oven, (uncovered). Let cook for a couple minutes, until cheese has completely melted.
  6. Remove dish from oven, and serve. I found it easiest to use a spatula and remove rice and pork chops at the same time. Enjoy!
Notes
Prep time is very fast... then it bakes for 90 minutes, so this is very simple to prepare. Find a quiet spot to put your feet up... and enjoy the wonderful aromas coming out of your kitchen as it bakes!

 

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits)

I grew up loving biscuits and gravy! It was always a big treat when my Mom (a Texas girl) made us Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits)! Can there be anything better than fresh, fluffy biscuits smothered in a thick gravy made with BACON?Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
Now I will concede that biscuits and gravy will probably not help you get you that girlish figure you’ve always wanted, but let me tell you… sometimes you just want a hearty breakfast that fills you up!  I’ve made biscuits and gravy so many times over the course of my almost 40 year marriage I can’t even count them.  My hubby LOVES it when I make biscuits and gravy for breakfast (must be HIS Southern heritage, too)!

Here’s how I make ‘em:  First I cook bacon until it is crispy.

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
Once bacon is done, remove it from pan to a paper towel, to drain off any remaining grease. Once cool enough to handle, crumble it into small pieces.

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
Do not wipe out the skillet you cooked the bacon in. Discard MOST of the bacon grease (I save mine in a jar in the freezer), BUT KEEP ABOUT 2 TABLESPOONS IN THE SKILLET (My Mom calls this Liquid Gold – ha ha).  See all those little bitty bacon bits on the bottom of the skillet? Those, plus the bacon grease will incorporate LOTS of flavor into your gravy!

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk together milk, flour, pepper and salt, until lump free.

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Put the bacon crumbles and the milk/flour mixture into the skillet.  Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat a bit, continuing to stir while the mixture thickens.  Absolutely give it a taste, to check for seasoning. I always add a lot of pepper, and usually more salt to get it to taste just right!

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Once the gravy has thickened, add a Tablespoon (or two!) of cold butter. Stir until butter is melted and incorporated into gravy.

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
It’s a fairly thick gravy. See how it coats the spoon when done?

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Once gravy is heated through, seasoned to taste, etc. get your warm biscuits ready! Split them in half and place them on a plate. I used my recipe for homemade Southern Buttermilk Biscuits here… nice and tall, but any store bought biscuits will do just fine!

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Spoon the hot bacon gravy over each biscuit half. Smother them good!

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
That’s IT!  Grab a fork, and dive on in!  Biscuits n’ Gravy may not be so good for your HIPS, but, mercy… they sure taste good on the LIPS! (Go take a long walk after breakfast… it’s all about balance, right?). I really think you’re gonna LOVE this gravy! Bacon really DOES make everything BETTER!

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
The gravy can be refrigerated if you have leftovers. Cover it well, and it will keep for a couple days. Reheat (you might need to add a touch of milk), stir it well, and it will be ready to eat again!

I see biscuits and gravy on the menu at lots of restaurants that serve breakfast, but honestly… I’d rather have my homemade version. It’s DELICIOUS (and inexpensive too!).  Have a great day, and give this bacon gravy a try on your favorite biscuit… I think you will LOVE it!

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits) / The Grateful Girl Cooks!Recipe Source: My Mom

Southern Bacon Gravy (For Biscuits)
 
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Make this thick, delicious Southern Bacon Gravy to pour over hot biscuits. Biscuits and Gravy... yum!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
For gravy:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 6 pieces bacon, cooked until crisp (RESERVE 2 Tablespoons bacon grease in skillet)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons cold butter
  • 8 warm biscuits (pre-cooked, or bake them while cooking bacon)
Directions
  1. Cook bacon in large skillet until crispy. Remove cooked bacon to paper towels to absorb grease. When cool, crumble bacon into small pieces. Set aside.
  2. Do NOT clean skillet. Leave 2 Tablespoons bacon grease in skillet. Discard the rest.
  3. In separate bowl or container, whisk together milk, flour, salt and pepper, until lump-free. Pour the milk/flour mixture into skillet with remaining bacon grease. Add crumbled bacon pieces. Heat mixture on medium (whisking/stirring constantly) until it comes to a boil; reduce heat a bit, and continue cooking and stirring, until gravy has thickened (5-6 minutes). Give it a taste test.
  4. Add additional salt and pepper, to taste (I ALWAYS add more). Once gravy has thickened, add 1-2 Tablespoons cold butter. Stir until butter is melted, incorporated into gravy, and mixture is heated through.
  5. Slice warm biscuits in half horizontally. Place biscuit halves onto serving plate. Spoon hot gravy over each half. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
In the words of my Mom... "you can't have enough pepper in this gravy!". Don't be afraid to season this gravy well! Taste, taste, taste, and add salt and pepper until it tastes exactly the way you want it to.

 

Summer Fruit Medley Green Salad

I love salads during the HOT Summertime! They are light, cold, and taste yummy when it is too hot outside to want a heavy dinner. A few nights ago I made this delicious Summer Fruit Medley Green Salad.  It was soooo good, I’m making it again tonight!Summer Fruit Medley Green Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
Summer and fresh picked fruit just really seem to go together!  The day I made this salad the first time, I had just been out picking fresh peaches at a local U-Pick Farm, plus I had fresh blueberries, strawberries and mixed greens right in my little backyard raised bed garden! How could I NOT use them in something yummy?!!!

Summer Fruit Medley Green Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

The salad came together in a FLASH!  In about 10 minutes, I had everything in a serving bowl. It sure looked pretty with the fresh fruit, feta cheese, red onions, Romaine lettuce, mesculin greens, and pecan pieces in it!

Summer Fruit Medley Green Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

I made a super quick balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing (that took all of about 30 seconds to mix together), drizzled it over the salad, and BOOM… Love at first bite!  I served it with slices of rotisserie chicken (that my husband bought) on the side.  The sweetness of the fresh ripe fruit, paired with the slight saltiness of the feta cheese, and the crunch of the crisp lettuce and pecans (or walnuts) makes for ONE GREAT TASTING SALAD!

Summer Fruit Medley Green Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Sure hope you will consider making this quick, easy, and scrumptious salad, especially now, when summer fruits are at their peak of delicious-ness!  Gotta go now and get our dinner ready. We’re having salmon, with this salad on the side tonight! YUM!

Summer Fruit Medley Green Salad / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Summer Fruit Medley Green Salad
 
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Fresh Summer fruits combine with mixed greens, feta, red onions, and pecans to create this delicious salad!
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 small head Romaine lettuce, chilled and chopped
  • 2 cups mixed salad greens (Spring greens or mesculin, chilled and chopped)
  • 1 fresh peach (peeled, pitted, and sliced thin)
  • 5-6 fresh strawberries (sliced thin)
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 8-10 pecans or walnuts (broken into pieces)
  • Optional Dressing: (but it goes perfectly with sweetness of fruit/saltiness of feta!)
  • 2 parts dark balsamic vinegar to 1 part olive oil (can make as much or as little as desired)
Directions
  1. Place cold chopped mixed greens in large salad bowl.
  2. Add peach slices, strawberry slices, blueberries, and crumbled feta cheese. Top with red onion slices and broken pecan (or walnut) pieces.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the olive oil and balsamic vinegar together with a fork until fully emulsified/combined. Drizzle dressing over salad..
  4. Serve chilled, and enjoy!
Notes
If by any chance you happen to have a Peach-Cinnamon balsamic vinegar hanging around your kitchen... by all means, use it in the salad dressing!!!

 

 

 

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

I love a good biscuit, especially if it’s a Southern Buttermilk Biscuit!  I grew up eating homemade biscuits  because my Texas-born and raised Mom made them perfectly! We ate our biscuits with jam OR smothered with thick gravy (made with bacon, NOT sausage!).Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
To me, a good biscuit has to be a tall biscuit! There’s something majestic about a good rise on a biscuit… a far cry from the “hockey puck like” biscuits I’ve had (and made, unfortunately) before.  Well this is a great recipe for making tall, homemade, fluffy buttermilk biscuits.

They are easy to make, with a couple helpful “tips”. Tip #1 is to put the butter you are going to use in the freezer for about 20 minutes before using it in this recipe. (It keeps the butter from melting in the dough… little flecks of butter will remain intact, and be, oh so delightful). Tip #2 is to not pat the dough down too thin. You want to cut the biscuits with the dough about 1-1½ inches thick. Trust me on this!  So here’s HOW you make these:

First (while butter is freezing), sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

I used a cheese grater to grate the frozen butter. It’s easy when butter is frozen! Add the butter to the dry ingredients.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Use a pastry cutter and cut the butter shreds in with the dry ingredients until mixture becomes small coarse crumbs. (If you want, you can use a food processor to mix the dry ingredients and butter… pulse until it becomes small crumbs).

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Make a deep well in the mixture.  Add cold buttermilk, then stir the mixture together until fully combined. The dough will be a bit sticky… don’t worry about it!

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Turn the dough out onto a flour covered work surface. Put a little flour on your hands (to help prevent sticking), and shape the dough into a rectangle.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Once dough is a rectangle shape, fold the dough over onto itself 6 times. I folded one end over to touch the other, then rotated dough a quarter turn and did it again, etc. until I had “turned” the dough over on itself 6 times (this helps to create “layers”).

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

You should end up with a tall square. Use your hands to flatten down the dough until the dough is about 1-1½ inches thick. You can use a 2½ inch biscuit cutter OR use a clean half-pint canning jar (like I did – same size!). Cut out biscuits. Try not to twist the edges of the dough when you cut.  If you have leftover scraps, you can put them together and cut out more biscuits, but don’t combine the dough more than a couple times! I was able to get 12 biscuits out of the dough.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Carefully place the biscuit dough rounds onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Put the biscuits close together (just so they are ALMOST touching).  Bake biscuits in a preheated 450 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Brush melted butter over the tops of the biscuits when done. You can also take the biscuits out a minute or two before they are done, brush the melted butter on the tops, then put it back into oven for a couple more minutes. I’ve done it BOTH ways!

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

The finished biscuits should come out of the oven, with some nice height and soft layers!

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

They are fantastic topped with butter and some jam (this is with some of my homemade raspberry jam!). Delish!

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

They are also fantastic smothered in thick, homemade gravy (I will post my recipe for the bacon gravy very soon!). Lip-smackin’ GOOD!

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

However you enjoy eating homemade biscuits (with jam, gravy or plain), I really think you will LOVE these delicious buttery biscuits!

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Have a great day!  I am grateful my husband and I were recently able to visit Victoria, BC for a weekend getaway (for my birthday). It was good to have an adventure together, see new sights, enjoy great food, each other’s company, etc., but it was sure good to come back to our home sweet home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest! For all of those blessings, I am thankful.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Recipe Source: http://www.thechunkychef.com/buttermilk-biscuits-and-sausage-gravy/

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits
 
Prep time
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Classic Southern-style buttermilk biscuits... big and tall, big and soft, and big on flavor!.
As Prepared By:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 12 biscuits
Ingredients
  • 6 Tablespoons butter (frozen-put in freezer 15-20 minutes before using)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (cold)
  • **2 Tablespoons melted butter (for brushing on tops of baked biscuits)
Directions
  1. Put butter into freezer for about 20 minutes before beginning! Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Grate frozen butter into the bowl. Using a pastry blender (or two forks), cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture becomes coarse crumbs (with butter about the size of small peas).
  3. Create a "well" in the middle of the crumbs. Add buttermilk. Mix the ingredients together until combined, and you have a slightly sticky soft dough.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Flour your hands and shape dough into a rectangle. Gently fold the dough onto itself 6 times. End to end, rotating between folds. Once done, you should have a rather tall square piece of dough. Pat this down until dough is between 1 and 1½ inches thick.
  5. Cut biscuits out of dough (using a 2½ inch biscuit cutter OR you can use a half pint canning jar (like I did). Try not to twist the dough as you make the cuts. If you have leftover dough, you can combine them and cut some more biscuits (but only do this once or twice or the dough will flatten).
  6. Place cut biscuit dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Place them very close together, so that they are ALMOST touching.
  7. Bake biscuits in preheated 450 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top.
  8. Brush the finished biscuits with melted butter right when you take them out of oven OR take them out right before they are finished, brush them with melted butter and pop them back in oven for last couple minutes. (I've done BOTH).
  9. Serve, and ENJOY!
Notes
* When freezing butter... I cut the amount needed, froze the cube, then grated it while frozen. You can also cut the butter into small chunks, put the pieces on a plate, then freeze. You can mix the dry ingredients and frozen butter in a food processor, then transfer to a bowl, but I found it just as easy (and less cleanup) to do it all in a bowl, from start to finish!

 

 

Watermelon, Feta, And Balsamic Bites

Looking for a quick bite summer appetizer? How about these cute little Watermelon, Feta, and Balsamic Bites?  Your family or friends will enjoy this unique “finger-food” appetizer, that’s so easy to prepare you won’t even need a recipe!Watermelon, Feta, And Balsamic Bites / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

I first tried these at a “Watermelon” themed dinner that my friend hosted. Every part of the dinner from beverages to dessert HAD to include watermelon in some form. The watermelon cube appetizers caught my eye, so decided to try making my own at home!

Watermelon, Feta, And Balsamic Bites / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

They are so very easy and quick to make, and your family or dinner guests will love them!  The most important thing is to start with a COLD, sweet, ripe watermelon!  The sweetness of the watermelon contrasts nicely with the slight “tang” of balsamic vinegar and the salty feta crumbles!

Start by slicing about a 2 inch wide wedge of watermelon. Cut off rind, then square it off, and cut into even sized cubes.

Watermelon, Feta, and Balsamic Bites / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Place watermelon cubes onto serving platter.  Take a very small spoon or knife and scoop out a tiny hole in each watermelon cube. Do NOT go all the way to the bottom of each cube (anywhere there is a hole besides the one in the middle, the balsamic will leak out!).

Watermelon, Feta, and Balsamic Bites / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

Fill each hole with a little balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle the tops of the watermelon with crumbled feta cheese, and garnish with mint leaves! That’s it! No “recipe” necessary for these fun and delicious, quick mini-bite appetizers!

Watermelon, Feta, And Balsamic Bites / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

 

Hope you will consider trying this appetizer! We sure enjoyed it! The combination of sweet watermelon, slightly salty feta cheese crumbles, and tangy balsamic is a winning one that I believe you will really enjoy!

Watermelon, Feta, and Balsamic Bites / The Grateful Girl Cooks!

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